Interview with Sophie Oberg

Integrating sustainability challenges

     Sophie Oberg

     Co-Chair of the Sustainability Strategy for Boards Committee

Integrating sustainability challenges

Tackling sustainability presents a fresh set of challenges for even the most experienced director. Sophie Öberg is working to help them face these responsibilities as the newly-appointed co-chair of ILA’s Sustainability Strategy for Boards committee. Her extensive background in communications and sustainability with services and manufacturing businesses gives her special insight.

“Working together is central to addressing these diverse challenges,” said Sophie. “At the core of sustainability is actually this idea of collaboration, dialogues and interaction, as you engage all your stakeholders.” Appointed to the Sustainability Strategy for Boards committee just over a year ago, she now co-chairs the group with Raymond Schadeck. 

Broad objectives

She sees three broad objectives for the committee: awareness raising and information sharing; providing the tools, methodologies, and case-studies to help directors adapt; and allied to this, “position ILA as one of the key actors helping to move towards this transition.” Challenges each director faces include understanding the impact that can be made, then working with internal stakeholders and external partners in a joint effort to embed sustainability into business practice. 

“We need to share not only the successes, but sometimes also the challenges as we navigate this action area,” she said. There is also a need to understand what steps are more or less easily achieved by each organisation, thus helping them prioritise. “For example, an exercise which is highly recommended when getting started is a so-called ‘materiality analysis’ which helps organisations identify and map relevant action areas,” Sophie said. 

Different communication approaches

She recognises that integrating and communicating about sustainability may still be tricky, because not only are there various interpretations of the sustainability agenda, but technology and regulation are changing the game regularly. “We are in a very diverse situation today,” Sophie noted, as “some organisations still don't exactly comprehend the notion of sustainability, and continue to wonder ‘what's in it for us’, while others are taking a proactive approach and are increasingly aware, informed, and equipped.”

Hence communication needs to be pitched at different levels for those at the various stages of the sustainability journey. “When we design our activities we take this into consideration, and seek to make it clear in the title and description of events and articles to whom each is targeted,” she said. Yet ultimately she believes that perhaps the key learning aid is listening to peers talk about their experiences with their own sustainability challenges and achievements. 

Varied experience

Here Sophie is able to contribute directly. She has worked in Luxembourg and Sweden with the likes of McKinsey and RTL Group, and manufacturers Sandvik and Ceratizit. Her speciality in corporate communications, branding, and marketing has at an early stage been combined with projects and responsibilities within sustainable business practices.

Sophie lived in Luxembourg around the start of the millennium, moved to Sweden for two decades and has been back in the Grand Duchy for four years. She works as Deputy Director at the not-for-profit IMS (Inspiring More Sustainability) Luxembourg, a network of 200 corporate members working on CSR/sustainable business.

This is yet more experience she can feed into her role on the ILA committee. So how does she see the position of co-chair evolving as she works alongside Raymond? “Our experience is very complementary and I hope this will bring more ideas and creativity to the group,” she said. “Besides, sharing the role is in the spirit of sustainability, which is largely about partnership and collaboration.”